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Strength Report – Maximizing Time in the Weight Room

by: Jarrett Lambert
Strength and Conditioning Coach, Lake Travis HS (TX)
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In 2011, Lake Travis High School won their fifth consecutive Texas 4A Division l State Championship, a feat that had never been accomplished in Texas high school football. During the past five years, the team has an overall record of 77–3. There are many factors that contribute to winning a state championship, much less winning five consecutive state championships, and one factor is the effort in the weight room during the season and in the off-season.

At Lake Travis, our focus is to become stronger throughout the football season. Our workouts are not designed to maintain strength. During the course of the season, we lift three days a week – Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays.

Since we have played in five consecutive state championship games, we have not started our off-season program until January. Over the five-year span, our players have lost 90 days of off-season lifting. The trade off of losing those workouts prior to January is that our players, including sub varsity, have practiced 30 more weeks than a number of other teams. However, because we have approximately 15 weeks of off-season before we start spring football, we are forced to maximize the time in the weight room when we get our players back in January.

Our off-season and summer strength and conditioning programs maintain the same structure as the workout schedule during the season. We lift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays for our speed and agility work.

We begin all work with a specific warm-up. The proper warm-up is essential to a productive work out and will activate the central nervous system and to get the muscle synapses firing.  We use a 10-pound plate for the warm-up.

We start with line hops (10 seconds for each) – front to back, side to side, Ali Shuffle, and criss-cross. Next, we do 10 counter balance squats.  This is a parallel squat holding the weight out in front of the body.  Then we lead into lunges (5 each leg) with the weight locked out above our head, followed by 10 wood choppers.  For this, the athletes are in an athletic stance with the weight in front of their chest. On the whistle, they bring the weight up above their eyes and back down.

After this portion of the warm-up, we are finished with the 10-pound weight.  Next, we do hip raises: both feet on the ground, right leg up, and left leg up. Finally, we do 16 crunches and 16 push-ups.  To close out the warm-up, we do 10 squat jumps, and begin our lifts.

During the off-season, we use what we call a Four Phase Model. Before beginning the first phase, we spend a week testing the players’ strength, speed, and agility. We test strength based on what we identify as our core lifts: Power Clean, Squat, Bench, and Incline Bench. The speed and agility tests we use are the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, broad jump and vertical jump. All of these tests provide us with a base that allows us to group the players. When this is completed, we begin our base phase.

Our Base Phase lasts for one week where the players lift 80% of their max weight on core lifts. Then we start our Loading Phase. During this phase, we load to 95% of max weight over a three week period (85%, 90%, 95%). At the end of this phase, the players should be lifting 95% of their max or more. We then enter the Unloading Phase (back to the Base Phase). This phase lasts for one week. During this phase we unload the lifts back to 80%. After we unload, the next three weeks are again back to the Loading Phase where the players load to 95% of their max weight. Once we finish loading the second time, we start the Performance Phase. This is when we test our athletes (weight room only) leading into the spring break.

When we return from spring break, we start over with our Base Phase with the new maxes recorded before the break. We follow the same format for the next six weeks with our Performance Phase leading into the week before spring football. It is important to note that during the phases of the weight room workouts, we supplement the core and secondary lifts with auxiliary lifts.

Rather than lifting four days per week and splitting time with speed and agility, we feel that it is more beneficial to lift three days per week and dedicate two days to speed and agility. Our players have bought into this system and have dedicated themselves to this program. We feel this weight room program has set the foundation for success and has provided our players with the winning edge. 

About the Author:  Jarrett Lambert enters his second season in 2012 as O-line Coach and Director of Strength and Conditioning at Lake Travis High School (TX). He previously coached the defensive line at Permian High School in Odessa. Lambert has also coached on both the junior high and middle school level. He played football at Angelo State and was captain of the 2002 team.


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